Trump Indicted in Historic Case, Set to Be Arraigned Next Week

Former President Donald Trump is expected to be arraigned as early as Tuesday, according to his defense attorney, in an unprecedented legal case with the potential to reshape the American political landscape ahead of next year’s election.

(Bloomberg) — Former President Donald Trump is expected to be arraigned as early as Tuesday, according to his defense attorney, in an unprecedented legal case with the potential to reshape the American political landscape ahead of next year’s election. 

Trump became the first former US president to be indicted on Thursday when a Manhattan grand jury determined there was enough evidence to proceed with a case against him for directing hush money payments to a porn star during his 2016 campaign. The grand jury returned the indictment on Thursday, according to two people with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified because the charges haven’t yet been made public. 

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office said it had been in contact with Trump’s attorney to coordinate his surrender for arraignment. Joe Tacopina, Trump’s lawyer, confirmed the former president planned to appear before New York authorities. He said he hasn’t been told what the specific charges are and expects them to remain under seal until the arraignment. 

Trump, who is running for president again and faces multiple other legal probes, called the indictment “political persecution and election interference at the highest level in history.” In a statement that also served as a rallying cry to his political base, he described the case as the latest effort by Democrats to “destroy the Make America Great Again movement.” 

Read more: Will Trump Do a Perp Walk? Everything to Know About Indictments

“I believe this Witch-Hunt will backfire massively on Joe Biden,” Trump said of the current US president. “The American people realize exactly what the Radical Left Democrats are doing here. Everyone can see it.”

The White House declined to comment.

While it’s unclear whether Trump would face time in prison if convicted, neither criminal charges nor a conviction would disqualify him from running or even serving as president. The 76-year-old candidate has a clear lead over likely contender Ron DeSantis among Republican voters, but — unlike the Florida governor — Trump trails Biden in a hypothetical 2024 general election matchup, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released this week. 

In the case brought by Bragg, a Democrat, Trump and his company are alleged to have falsified records to conceal the payments to Stormy Daniels. His onetime lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 to repress claims that she’d had a sexual relationship with Trump, and was reimbursed by the Trump Organization. Trump has denied the affair and any involvement in the payoff.

Read Trump’s Full Statement in Response to His Indictment in NY

The case rests on a novel legal theory, some experts say. Falsifying business records can be a misdemeanor under New York law, but for prosecutors to prove Trump committed a felony, they would have to show he was involved in the falsification to commit or conceal a second crime.

During his administration, federal prosecutors decided against seeking Trump’s indictment over the hush money, citing Justice Department guidance that a sitting president can’t be charged. Trump said earlier in March that the district attorney’s office had invited him to testify before the grand jury Bragg convened in the case — an invitation that signaled prosecutors were serious about bringing charges against him. He declined the offer.

Bragg initially decided in February 2022 not to pursue an indictment, spurring the resignation of two senior prosecutors on the case. One of them, Mark Pomerantz, a former federal prosecutor who led the investigation under Bragg’s predecessor, Cyrus Vance Jr., sharply criticized Bragg for failing to charge Trump at the time. 

Republican Demands

Pomerantz said in his book People vs. Donald Trump that his team thought the payments to Daniels and a former Playboy model could have been part of a larger case including Trump’s falsifying business records in his annual financial statements.

Bragg’s office has come under fire in recent weeks, including from Trump himself, who predicted “death and destruction” if he were indicted. Several prominent Republican congressmen, including Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, demanded that the Manhattan DA respond to requests for documents justifying his investigation of Trump. 

Far from paralyzing the DA, the threats and pressure appear to have galvanized Bragg’s office, according to a former prosecutor from the office who has stayed in touch with Bragg’s people. The former prosecutor, now in private practice, asked not to be named because the conversations were private.

Trump attorney Alina Habba predicted her client would prevail in the end.

“A former president, a current candidate and my friend President Donald J. Trump is a victim of a corrupt and distorted version of the American justice system and history,” Habba said in a statement. “He will be vindicated.”

–With assistance from Derek Wallbank.

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